AUBURN — Bryan Harsin is keen on emphasizing the things Auburn football can control.
Something Auburn can't control: The fact that Georgia (6-0, 4-0 SEC) is one of the most talented, dominant forces that exists this year in college football.
Something Auburn can control: Dropped passes. Play calling. Auburn didn't just lose 34-10 because of how good Georgia is.
There was good and bad from Harsin's first SEC loss as the coach at Auburn (4-2, 1-1). Here are the grades from the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.
Look, maybe it should be higher than average. After all, no opponent including Clemson had managed to score a red zone touchdown on Georgia this season. Auburn moved the ball effectively more than once against a historically good defense.
But the drops, man. Those can't be brushed off as a product of the Dawgs' dazzling defense. Auburn was inside the 10-yard line twice in the first half and scored three points combined.
Kobe Hudson made more promising plays. Bo Nix played well for the most part. This game showed how good Auburn's offense can be even against good defenses, and just how much the Tigers can get in their own way.
There is some truth to the notion that quarterbacks magically become All-Americans against Auburn. Not always. But definitely with Penn State's Sean Clifford. And certainly a bit with Georgia backup Stetson Bennett as well.
He doesn't usually throw this much, but his 14-for-21 day with two touchdowns was not what Auburn had in mind. The unit gets some leniency because it was missing so many key players: Smoke Monday, T.D. Moultry, Owen Pappoe. But the Tigers still got exposed a few times by a backup quarterback. Early in the second half, they were beaten down by the run, too. It's hard to score higher than a C against Georgia.
Special teams: C
The definition of average. A non-factor, pretty much. One short field goal. No big returns either way. No game-changing plays. Auburn got lucky with a missed Georgia field goal.
The play calling on offense does not deserve to score this high, because Mike Bobo, like so many before him, had no answer for Georgia's defense. But Bryan Harsin showed once again that he trusts his offense in big spots — Auburn went for it on fourth down five times — and whether or not he was successful, it's an admirable and refreshing trait. It didn't work in that huge spot late in the first half. Georgia made a better play. Don't knock the coach for that.
Auburn looked like it could handle Georgia for the first quarter. Not many teams in the country can say that. A lot went wrong after that. But it's not an end-of-the-world loss. Some good, some bad.